Camp 53

Casa Do Sol School | Kwalata Adventure Centre, Dinokeng Game Reserve

March 2016

An amazing group of campers from Casa Do Sol School in Linden Johannesburg enjoyed a week with Camp Footprints at the Kwalata Adventure Centre in the Dinokeng Game Reserve, Gauteng  in March 2016.  43 campers and 8 educators enjoyed a week of sports, swimming and loads of fun and adventure. Casa Do Sol School provides a place of inclusive integration for learners with intellectual disabilities. Their role extends beyond just the immediate scholastic development of their current learners, as their work builds an awareness in the community at large, that different isn’t less.

Casa do Sol school caters for Learners with Special Educational needs between the ages of six and twenty-one. Although the primary disability is intellectual impairment, the cause and nature of the learners’ special needs and barriers to learning are wide-ranging and divers. The school curriculum has been designed to meet the individual needs and interests of each learner and to ensure their holistic development. The full and varied curriculum is based on a Literacy, Numeracy and Life Skills Learning Programme, and this includes the teaching of Languages, Mathematics. Life Orientation, Arts & Culture, Natural & Social Sciences, Technology and Economic & Management Sciences. A strong emphasis is placed on the development of Life Skills, as it is imperative that each learner is equipped with the skills they need to be as independent as possible.  The co-curricula and extra-curricula activities that are offered at the school include music, woodwork, sewing & knitting, cooking & baking, gardening and pottery. Sporting activities include ice skating, swimming, soccer, water aerobics and adaptive sports.

Camp 54

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA – Western Cape | Oppiesee Camp, Melkbostrand

April 2016

Our annual CHOC Western Cape Camp takes place in March, the best time to visit the Cape and enjoy wonderful weather and great company as we sure did when we met our group of 43 campers on Monday 21 March. The campers were collected bright and early at the three hospitals where they receive treatment for their cancer related illnesses or blood disorders. Just Footprints extends sincere thanks to the staff at Groote Schuur, Tygerberg and Red Cross Children’s Hospitals for their assistance in rounding up the campers for camp. Without the support of these hospital teams this would indeed be a difficult task to undertake. Oppiesee in Melkbosstrand was our venue of choice with an amazing view of Table Mountain and the West Coast beaches right on our door step. A week of Olympic sports, beach activities, life skills, dance and ‘braai pie’ cooking challenges lay ahead for our campers and Camp Crew Members. Our campers received beautiful back packs from Soda Bloc and their goodie bags were kindly sponsored by the Foschini Group. Once again we could not have had such a successful camp without the team from Ukusa Safaris where Mike and Yvonne Hughes handled the catering as well as assisted with the programme facilitation. Our Camp Crew members were young adult rangers and guides as well as young adult cancer survivors who have previously attended our camps as campers. Just Footprints is thrilled about this exciting development of cancer survivors, who have overcome the same challenges as our campers, joining in as active Camp Crew members! They were amazing role models and an inspiration to all at camp.

Camp 55

Mount Olive Outreach | Kwalata Adventure Centre, Dinokeng Game Reserve

April 2016

Camp Footprints is delighted to welcome Khaya Centre Mount Olive Outreach and Orange Babies to our ‘beneficiary camp family’. The core activities of Mount Olive are centered on behavior change, care and support to the general public through community based HIV/AIDS programs in Lehae, south of Johannesburg, and surrounding informal settlements. Mount Olive’s main focus is to assist and develop Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC). Their program is a model which retains children, who have been orphaned and traumatized by the loss of parents, in their community of origin.  Networking with community based organizations, schools, clinics and churches is also an integral feature of the program.

This camp was a special incentive for the Mount Olive young leaders’ program. An exciting first in our ‘menu’ of camp activities was the introduction of a leadership boot camp program with a challenging obstacle course and fun, high energy team building exercises meant to stretch the campers and Mount Olive staff members out of their comfort zones. The ‘Reveille at Sunrise’ or more well known military bugle wakeup call each morning had the 60 campers up on their toes standing at attention, bungalows spick and span and ready for inspection. ‘Boot camp’ sessions included sandski, spider’s web, dodgeball, amazon crossing, totem pole and footloose activities. The highlight of the camp program was the mud pit with much amusement, high jinks and amazing team bonding. The ‘mess’ lunches and dinners were thoroughly enjoyed by a ravenous bunch of campers after all the strenuous exercises.

Camp Footprints would like to congratulate Valencia Kok, who heads up Mount Olive, and her staff  for their very enthusiastic participation in all the activities. We look forward to many more camps with Mount Olive Outreach.

Camp 56

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA  Sibling Camp | Johannesburg  Kwalata Adventure Centre in the Dinokeng  Game Reserve

May 2016

Our third sibling camp in liaison with the psychosocial team from CHOC Children’s Cancer Foundation SA was once again a very rewarding and worthy intervention in the lives of siblings whose brother or sister has been diagnosed with cancer or a cancer related illness. Often referred to as the “silent sufferers”, the camp gave these siblings the opportunity to share their feelings and concerns about their sick sibling in a safe, respectful and contained space amongst professional psychosocial staff and trained Camp Crew Members from CHOC.

23 excited campers attended the camp in the wilderness setting of Dinokeng Game Reserve. Here they were not only encouraged to enjoy their environment and meet the wildlife on the early morning game drives, but were given the space to be who they are and to just have lots of fun.

Comment by Alta Bence from CHOC “It is such a humbling experience to know we have made a difference in the lives of these siblings, which for many is a life changing event… The social workers have already had great positive feedback from the parents”.

Camp 57

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA – KZN | Kwa-Zulu Natal Mtunzini – Twinstreams Environmental Educational Centre

July 2016

34 children living with cancer or life threatening blood disorders being treated at Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban and Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg enjoyed a 5 day camp with amazing experiences hosted by Just Footprints at Twinstreams Environmental Education Centre.  The campers had a great time paddling on the estuary, exploring mangrove swamps with much fun in the mud, beach walks and games and hiking in the forest. One of the highlights of the camp programme was a visit to the Unizulu Science Centre in Richards Bay. The children were fascinated by the variety of and thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on exhibits which are composed of dynamic demonstrations, fascinating curriculum and state-of-the-art equipment. All the shows are structured to be both educational and entertaining ‘edutainment’ and have such interesting names as “Amazing Aluminium Show”, “Fire and Ice”, “Crazy Chemistry”, “Good Vibrations” and “Light Fantastic”.

In a very exciting development for Just Footprints at the KZN camps, young adult cancer survivors volunteered for this camp and were a wonderful inspiration to the campers currently battling with their serious illnesses. The education officers and staff at Twinstreams and our JFF facilitators Sisa, Ayanda and Vusi all collaborated to make the camp a fun, exciting and safe space where the campers could chill out from their hospital visits and treatments, enjoy ‘normal’ activities and just be kids again!

Camp 58

Sizanani Outreach Project | Kwa-Zulu Natal Mtunzini – Twinstreams Environmental Education Centre

July 2016

What better way to spend the winter than with our friends from Sizanani Outreach Centre, a community based organisation in Nkandla assisting children with HIV/Aids and orphans and vulnerable children. 60 campers joined us for 5 days of adventure with Steve and the amazing educational officers from Twinstreams,  Sizanani staff and our own JFF facilitators, Sisa, Ayanda and Vusi. The daily programme was packed to capacity with many stimulating environmental educational activities that were geared towards appreciating our natural environment by exploring the coastal dunes, navigating through the mangroves, learning that mud is good for you, kayaking and crab hunting. Beach games, dance, drama, song and creative bead making also formed part of the programme.  One of the most important aspects of this camp was to teach the children the importance of adherence to a medication regime, since many need to take anti-retroviral medication, or are caring for siblings who need to do so.  This intervention was promoted daily through fun activities to foster adherence, acceptance of their condition and to develop a positive attitude around taking their medication. Sincere thanks to Mrs Nkosazana Dlamini Haas from Sizanani, for her dedication and passion for these children and their well being. Eric and Debra Bianchi from the USA, devoted Sizanani supporters and keen photographers joined us to see first hand the kids enjoying being away from their daily ‘adult’ responsibilities of caring for their siblings, fetching water and carrying wood. We would also like thank the local Mtunzini businesses for supporting our camp initiative.

Camp 59

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA | Gauteng CHOC Johannesburg – Kwalata Adventure Centre – Dinokeng Game Reserve

October 2016

Children living with cancer or life threatening blood disorders being treated at Charlotte Maxeke and Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospitals joined us for the start of our summer camps during the October school holidays in the Dinokeng Game Reserve  We decided to bring the beach to the bush and why not! We set up tents on the volley ball court which was transformed into a ‘tented beach resort’. How exciting it was for our campers to each spend a night sleeping in the tents under a canopy of stars.  Due to their illness many of our campers have never slept out in a tent or in a sleeping bag and they loved the thrill of being out in the ‘bush and on the beach’.  The laughter and giggles were heard every night. Maybe a few nervous giggles too!

Due to the differing ages of the campers, our programme was planned to incorporate a variety of fun beach activities for both the young and the older children. Beach and fishing games, creating our own island getaways and of course we had to swim, so instead of salt water we had bubble bath and fun slides for all our campers to enjoy. The highlight of the afternoon programme is always the swimming and water activities and then some free time to just play, feel safe and to forget about their illness.

Camp 60

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA | Gauteng CHOC Pretoria – Kwalata Adventure Centre – Dinokeng Game Reserve

October 2016

34 Children living with cancer or life threatening blood disorders being treated at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria joined us during their October school holidays. We decided this year to split the two CHOC Gauteng camps as the number of campers are increasing each year and we felt that by splitting the two regions, our campers would feel more at ease in a smaller group and the camp programme would have far better impact. This camp was very similar to our Camp 59 as our ‘beach in the bush’ theme continued.

On a personal note, there is a very special lady in the paediatric oncology ward at Steve Biko Academic Hospital. Her name is Judy Schoeman. Judy plays a huge part in these children’s lives as she is the dietician at the hospital and ensures that the children follow their specific dietary requirements. Judy has a genuine love and passion for these amazing children and joins us at camp where she enjoys seeing the children having such fun out of the hospital environment, their progress and that they have no fear to try new activities. We thank Judy for all that she does to ensure the well-being of our campers and her patients.

Camp 61

Casa Do Sol School – Gauteng | Kwalata Adventure Centre – Dinokeng Game Reserve

September 2016

40 children from Casa Do Sol School for children and young adults with special needs in Linden Johannesburg joined us at camp in September. This was their second camp with Camp Footprints this year, so the excitement and the build up to come back to camp was a daily topic at school as they readied themselves for the fun experiences that again lay ahead for them at the camp.

Even though these children face challenges on a daily basis due to their health, life circumstances and special needs, Just Footprints Foundation feels it is important for them to understand that there are less fortunate people out in the community. In Hammanskraal there is an old age home called TLC and through our funders and Camp Footprints campers we were able to bring some joy into their lives. Just Footprints purchased trees, shrubs and seedlings from local entrepreneur Solly at his Green Goddess Nursery and our campers planted these at TLC. The trees, shrubs and seedlings will provide much needed shade and ensure that the old folks have a pretty garden while sitting outside. Our campers made bracelets for the ladies and key ring holders for the gentlemen which they personally handed out to the TLC residents and spent time talking and singing to the old folks.

Our sincere gratitude to Automatrix and General Motors for their amazing support of our camp initiative for children with serious illnesses and life challenges.

Camp 62

The Gateway School – Gauteng | Kwalata Adventure Centre – Dinokeng Game Reserve

October 2016

50 Campers from Gateway School joined us for 4 days filled with fun which included intentional sports play, taking on the challenge of the mud pit and the spider obstacle course. Also included in the programme were water slides, water balloons and a sponge throwing water activity with the volunteers being the ‘target’ in the cut out wall poster. The children participate with great enthusiasm in these water activities.

Dance is such an important component for the campers from Gateway School and every morning they love their ‘wake up and shake up’ session with Vusi our dance facilitator at Camp Footprints.

During this camp, we also included an interaction opportunity for the children to meet ‘Popeye’ who is a Burmese python and resides at Kwalata Adventure Centre. Popeye is a permanent resident and is utilized by the Kwalata game guides to educate people on snakes and their behaviour. Popeye is the highlight of many campers’ visit to camp and they had the opportunity to touch her and feel the difference in her skin texture as well as overcome some of their fears around snakes.

Camp 63

Sparrow School and Ikageng – Gauteng | Kwalata Adventure Centre – Dinokeng Game Reserve

November 2016

Camp Footprints invited children from Sparrow Foundation School in Melville and children from Ikageng Itireleng Aids Ministry based in Soweto to join us for 4 nights and 5 days of camp in November. These learners were in Grades 1 to 3 and in total we had 46 little friends join us for fun camp adventures, game drives in the Dinokeng Big 5 Game Reserve and the usual water, art, dance and song activities.

Camp Footprints is now officially a member of SeriousFun Children’s Network Global Partnership Program founded by the philanthropist and actor Paul Newman in the USA. This camp was preceded by our first 10 day leadership team and Camp Crew Members training workshop facilitated by the Global Partnership Program (GPP) Team. Both the leadership and volunteer training workshops were facilitated by an enthusiastic and professional GPP Team with years of camp experiences and care for children with serious health challenges. The high energy, very participative interactive learning experience was thoroughly enjoyed by all participants in the GPP as well as Camp Footprints Teams. The knowledge gained from a well resourced and internationally acclaimed camp organisation such as SeriousFun will stand Camp Footprints in great stead for future camps and our growth as a credible camp initiative for children with serious illness in South Africa. We will continue building on the expertise of our GPP camp partners and the training and camp resources they offer to spread the ‘gospel of the power of camp’ to all the amazing organisations and medical units with whom we partner.

The camp was made possible by the sponsorship of  The National Lotteries Commission.

Camp 64

Joburg Child Welfare | Kwalata Adventure Centre, Dinokeng Game Reserve

December 2016

Camp Footprints staff, Crew members and 58 very excited and animated children welcomed Laura Clancy and her enthusiastic team from 702 and the ‘Truck of Love’ with Spar at the first of our 2 ‘Christmas Camps in the Bush’ when they arrived with goodie bags stuffed with Christmas gifts and stationary for the 2017 school year. Just Footprints was thrilled to be one of the lucky 702 ‘Truck of Love’ with Spar beneficiaries of choice for the 2016 Festive Season.  120 bags filled with toiletries, juice, crisps and sweet treats, gifts and school stationary were handed out with much fanfare and celebration at the start of our first Christmas bush camp. A Christmas Tree for the campers to be put up at camp was another highlight of the visit.

Tembisa Child and Welfare were thlucky beneficiaries of this largesse and screamed and shouted with delight when the doors were opened and they could see all the wrapped gifts. The camp activities continued on this festive and fun note with the children being treated to a delicious Christmas lunch with all the trimmings and table decorations with party hats, bells and whistles and of course always the great excitement when Father Christmas arrived!  Great fun and games were had by all participants.

Tembisa Child and Welfare was established in 1986The Organisation was started to address the problems of children who were lost, abandoned or abused, used to sleep in police cells or hospitals. In the beginning, the Organisation was accommodated in fabricated buildings and railways containers in the back yard of Uniting Reformed Church. Through cooperative fundraising over years, the Management Board, residents of Tembisa Township together with the senior professional staff worked hard to establish two Centres which consist of 2 Children’s Homes, 2 Preschools, an Administration Block, a Bakery, a Sewing School/Factory and a 8-roomed Halfway House for University and College children who grew up in the 2 Children’s Homes.

Camp 65

Joburg Child Welfare | Kwalata Adventure Centre, Dinokeng Game Reserve

December 2016

Faithful Taste Holdings who have been the most amazing supporters of our Camp Footprints programme again sponsored our 2 ‘Christmas in the Bush’ camps. Through the generosity of the staff of Starbucks who each personally selected a gift for our campers, the 118 campers from both our Christmas camps received gifts of clothing, accessories and shoes, all beautifully wrapped with a personal note from each Starbucks staff member. The beneficiaries, selected by Taste Holdings staff, were Tembisa and Child Welfare and 2 organisations under the auspices of Joburg Child Welfare.

The Taste Crew came through to both camps to prepare and serve lunch to all the campers, staff and camp crew members. To add to the festive spirit, the tables in the camp boma were decorated with tinsel, baubles and sparkle to ensure that our campers experienced the joy and excitement that makes Christmas such a special time. The delicious food of Maxi’s burgers, Zebro’s chicken and 3 huge Christmas cakes sponsored by Dominoes were thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Our exuberant Father Christmas and his merry band of elves engaged with the children and brought much fun and laughter to the festivities.

Johannesburg Child Welfare’s vision is of a society where children can grow up strong, safe and happy, where parents and caregivers can create the best possible family setting, so that no child suffers. During 2016 the dedicated team of over 200 staff and volunteers reached over 47,000 children and individuals through protection, adoption, foster care, residential care, education and training work. Since 1909, Jo’burg Child Welfare has played a pivotal role in child care and protection strategies across the country. Nationally they advise on legislation to protect children, and through advocacy work to ensure children have a voice to influence services which affect them.